Data is the fuel of mobility. Don’t spill it for nothing

data idea.jpeg

(Franki Chamaki, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Mouchka Heller, Project Manager, Seamless Integrated Mobility System, World Economic Forum & Maya Ben Dror, Lead, Autonomous and Urban Mobility, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution of the World Economic Forum


In spite of its ubiquity, “data” is still an intimidating, catch-all word for many of us who realise our daily online footprint feeds the small and big machines of everyday life. Even when we use online maps, order rides, rent bikes and scooters, and commute while using these mobility apps, our location and time stamp is collected. In some parts of the world, it might even be collected as we wait patiently at the light of a particularly busy intersection or get on a bus; in the future, autonomous vehiles might “eye” everything within and around them, including us.

The information our data is providing holds the key to a new mobility future, be it public- or private sector-led. It helps determine the right number of trains at rush hour, or the right location for a bike dock that helps us move more effortlessly. “Data” is almost a code name for the promise of a world that can become truly efficient and seamless, and can make our lives much better – if used by the right entities in the right way.

A mobile world

Mobility is a key part of this promise. A new mobility future is about more than moving from point A to point B; it is about everyone being able to get to their dream job, getting the kids safely to school, being able to squeeze in the gym on the way, and making doctor’s appointments on time. But this vision will not be realized easily for everyone; accommodating different physical and mental needs, those of the young and lower socio-economic classes, to name a few, will require a concerted effort. Mobility’s toll on public resources such as street space, air quality and global warming would also need to be addressed before it can offer true sustainability to our cities.

Well, if you have data on local average household income, on the cost of insurance, and cars and gas prices, you can start by figuring out the actual footprint of mobility on society. Then if you have data on public transit routes, route performance (including delays, cancellations and accidents), and stations for micro-mobility solutions, you can know whether more sustainable and effective alternatives are available. By overlaying this information with more data on where hospitals, fresh produce, schools, large employers and parks would be, we could increase the outreach of sustainable and more affordable mobility options. Finally, by becoming a champion of the open data movement, like London and Helsinki, a city could combine user information with data from private mobility providers, then allowing mobility users to negotiate the perfect commute for them and the greater good.

Given the number of possibilities, it is no surprise that cities around the world have become one of the driving forces in data-driven mobility solutions. Many have already started to develop standardized requests for data from mobility-service providers, including New York City and Los Angeles. Finland has possibly developed the new era of data regulation the furthest so far through the Act on Transport Services, which mandates open software standards for essential data for all stakeholders, and ticketing and payment for all passenger-transport service providers. The aim of the act is to enable user-centric mobility services for all, while also aiming to guarantee a level playing field for all stakeholders and more complete intelligence throughout the whole transport system.

But the question begs: are our cities ready for the potential data they can access? Lack of personnel and ability to compete in this regard with the private sector poses a key challenge. This is one reason why the private sector has come in to fill in a lot of the gaps in terms of designing, developing and launching data-driven solutions for the mobility sector. There is a cost to this contribution, though: the data gathered to make new products and solutions work, and optimize existing infrastructure, comes with a high price tag. In fact, datasets can be bought, rented, sold or shared for commercial purposes. Can they guide us to a sustainable travel future?

How should your data drive sustainable new mobility?

The price tag put on all this data is no more than a guess. A guess of what us, the users, are willing to trade in. Data is a financial asset that does not yet have a mature pricing framework that includes the many externalities of travel – the societal, economic and environmental spillovers of mobility. It is incumbent on all of us – the users, the individuals – to make an informed decision about the value that should be assigned to our data. The decision to include factors that have failed to be folded into current mobility costs: air quality and resulting health risks, street space and the resulting depletion in quality of life, climate change and resulting threats to mankind, to name a few.

In 2014, a qualitative study offered a cookie to any stranger walking down a New York street in exchange for personal information like date of birth, a copy of their driver’s license, or an address. Three hundred and eighty individuals traded in their personal information for a cookie that day. Over half agreed to have their picture taken, and 117 people allowed the researcher to take their fingerprints. The researcher did not even provide a reason for asking for the information. Are we any more educated and ready to have a global conversation, five years later?

 

The proposition with which we are now presented is not exactly a cookie. If you knew that the collective value of mobility data generated by the swiping of our fingertips could translate into a life-changing profit for the public good, reduce carbon emissions significantly, or give a baby access to healthcare, would you give yours up? Don’t answer just yet and take a minute to understand what you are giving up, and what you should have a right to expect in return. Then practice until you are back in the driver’s seat.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Mental health in the COVID-19 pandemic

Commission launches new tool to support digital teaching and learning in schools

OECD sees global growth slowing, as Europe weakens and risks persist

Trump’s pounding of Iran less harsh than expected, leaves arrangement open

EU Presidents lay out priorities for future of Europe

Idea of ‘homogenous’ Polish culture is a myth: UN human rights expert

Education in Emergencies: EU announces record humanitarian funding for 2019 and launches #RaiseYourPencil Campaign

‘Comprehensively include migrants’ or sustainable development won’t happen, warns General Assembly President

What does Tsipras have to offer to the rest of Europe? Is it worth an early advance of €10 billion? Berlin sturdily denies it

‘All efforts must be made’ to ensure peaceful elections for Guinea-Bissau, Security Council hears

Wars have rules: 5 things the UN humanitarian chief wants countries to tackle so human suffering in conflict can be minimized

Writing a greener story in Asia and the Pacific amidst COVID-19 outbreak

Stakeholder capitalism is urgently needed – and the COVID-19 crisis shows us why

Trump doesn’t only target Germany, aims to crack the entire EU

Commission publishes EU Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online continues to deliver results

Knowledge management and entrepreneurship: short term vs. long term perspective

Factories are no longer the sure route to prosperity. Here’s why

Top officials say UN will support Bahamas’ rescue, relief efforts as Hurricane Dorian churns in Atlantic

UN and African Union in ‘common battle’ for development and climate change financing

3 charts that show how attitudes to climate science vary around the world

The next talent opportunity for the digital workplace? Neurodiversity

Greece at the mercy of ECB while sailing through uncharted waters

How green investment will help Latin America and the world fight climate change

Brunei’s new penal code would enshrine ‘cruel and inhuman punishments’ UN rights chief warns

Why the way of loving closes doors of health?

Commission presents its response to Antisemitism and a survey showing Antisemitism is on the rise in the EU

The MH17 tragedy to put a tombstone on Ukrainian civil war

“If the job market doesn’t exist, then even the most brilliant Youth Guarantee cannot ensure a job to these young people”, European Youth Forum Secretary General Giuseppe Porcaro on another Sting Exclusive

The countries most ready for the global energy transition

Landmine casualties high for third consecutive year despite record funding, latest monitor reports

Draghi rehabs ECB into a tool to support growth and employment; a departure from Teutonic orthodoxy

Militias force nearly 2,000 to leave Libyan capital’s largest shelter for internally-displaced: UNHCR

Here’s how one business leader is tackling injustice: It starts with personal commitment

Free movement of services: Commission takes further action to ensure a well-functioning Single Market for professionals

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission decides to register 2 new initiatives

Conquering COVID-19 through Collaboration

World Malaria Day: 7 things to know about the deadly disease

The EU Parliament blasts the Council about the tax dealings of the wealthy

Five years down the drain

Monsanto lawsuit ruling a ‘significant recognition’ of victims’ human rights, say UN rights experts

Mergers: Commission approves Assa Abloy’s acquisition of Agta Record, subject to conditions

My Mothers

5 ways to break down the barriers for women to access leadership roles

Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, in Brussels - Berlaymont, last week. (Copyright European Union, 2017 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lukasz Kobus)

Amazon, Luxembourg and Ireland hit by EU’s latest turn of the screw over competition

How can we regulate disruptive technologies?

Breaking news: Juncker’s Commission mutant trojan horse is on the loose in Strasbourg

Vulnerable children face ‘dire and dangerous’ situation on Greek island reception centres, UNICEF warns

Nearly four million North Koreans in urgent need, as food production slumps by almost 10 per cent

A record one million Syrians displaced over six months, during six key battles: UN investigators

COVID-19: Save European culture and values, MEPs tell Commission

Improve collection of data on disasters, Secretary-General Guterres urges

Four lessons for a successful switch to value-based healthcare

European Commission adopts rules to ensure a smooth transition to its next President and the next College of Commissioners

As tech disrupts our jobs, it’s not too late to turn pain into gain

Budget Committee backs €2.3 million worth of aid to help 550 redundant media workers in Greece

The Council of Europe adopts Recommendation on young people’s access to rights

MEPs call on EU countries to end precarious employment practices

Why women aren’t allowed to work

From UN Assembly podium, Central African Republic leader appeals for lifting arms embargo

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s